Sunday, September 18, 2011

Unwittingly, A Reading, A Favorite

Ah, another of my favorites. The minimalist poetry of John Burnside. I can never decide what this poem is about really. Dreams, the past, past lives, maybe? Perhaps all three. It doesn't matter, I love it. How I know exactly what he is saying, how I don't know. Enjoy. . .


Unwittingly
I’ve visited the place
where thought begins:
pear trees suspended in sunlight, narrow shops,
alleys to nothing
but nettles
and broken wars;
and though it might look different
to you:
a seaside town, with steep roofs
the colour of oysters,
the corner of some junkyard with its glint
of coming rain,
though someone else again would recognise
the warm barn, the smell of milk,
the wintered cattle
shifting in the dark,
it’s always the same lit space,
the one good measure:
Sometimes you’ll wake in a chair
as the light is fading,
or stop on the way to work
as a current of starling
turns on itself
and settles above the green,
and because what we learn in the dark
remains all our lives,
a noise like the sea, displacing the day’s
pale knowledge,
you’ll come to yourself
in a glimmer of rainfall or frost,
the burnt smell of autumn,
a meeting of parallel lines,
and know you were someone else
for the longest time,
pretending you knew where you were, like a diffident tourist,
lost on the one main square, and afraid to  inquire.
John Burnside

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